NZ state assists with murdering its own citizen


It has been reported that a NZ citizen known only as Muslim John or Abu Suhaib al-Australi was killed in a drone strike in November of last year.

This is the first ever-recorded death of a New Zealander by a drone strike, but drones have targeted thousands of people in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia over the past 10 years.

We know that this NZ person was the subject of an ‘intelligence warrant’ which can only logically be understood to be a warrant issued to the GCSB to capture signals intelligence (SIGINT) from this man’s phone calls and/or emails. This would include both the metadata and content of all communications.

We also know that the GCSB is providing all SIGINT to the United States. The processes of capturing and funneling of information to the US National Security Agency (NSA) is well documented in Nicky Hager’s 1996 book, Secret Power. Although largely out of date, the evidence of the completely integrated nature of the Five Eyes partners (US, UK, Australia, Canada and NZ) remains accurate. Arguably, these agencies have become closer given the degree of real-time computing power now available.

And finally, we know that the NSA provides intelligence to both the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that are both responsible for the ongoing drone wars. Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill has documented JSOC’s role in the recent book and film ‘Dirty Wars’ which was at the NZ International Film Festival last year.

So the conclusion we must draw from these deductions is that the New Zealand government provided information about ‘Muslim John’ in Yemen to the United States with full knowledge of that such intelligence could and would be acted upon in a drone strike.

As importantly, Prime Minister John Key has gone on record as saying that he believes that this drone attack was justified.

NZ ostensibly operates a system of law that requires that the State prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that any offence has occurred before a person can be sentenced for any criminality including acts of terrorism as defined under the Terrorism Suppression Act. Moreover, as New Zealand does not have a death penalty for any crime, had the New Zealand state acted within the bounds of its own law, this strike would surely demand condemnation. The sanctioning of the killing of this person by the Prime Minister takes NZ to a dark place indeed.

For now the New Zealand state has not only condoned the killing of one of its own citizens in contravention of its own law, but it is complicit in that person’s murder.

The ‘neither confirm nor deny’ policies of the GCSB with regard to the uses of its signals intelligence leave the public in a very difficult position in knowing the extent of the agency’s collaboration with US forces in the drone wars.

The murder of US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16 year old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, and Samir Kihan by a drone attack in Yemen has caused serious resistance to drones. Attempts by the US courts to find out what sits behind those ‘neither confirm nor deny’ answers to discover the basis under which the US is murdering its own citizens have been largely thwarted.

US District Court Judge Colleen McMahon encountered, in January 2013, when ruling on a freedom of information case taken by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times against the US Department of Justice. The plaintiffs sought release of a memorandum purporting to give legal justification for the killing in Yemen of al-Awlaki.

The Judge complained she found herself in “a veritable Catch 22” unable to find a way “around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reason for its conclusion a secret.”

The US security apparatus has nearly unlimited power and scope in carrying out its secret aerial wars. Neither proof nor justification is required of them. It is simply enough to be considered a threat, however distant or unrealistic and you will be assassinated. New Zealand’s own role in the murder of this person, and indeed all of the contributions to the US war machine must be exposed.


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According to Paul Buchanan this morning on Radio NZ, Abu Suhaib al-Australi wasn't even the target of the strike, but simply 'collateral damage'.

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